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Monday, August 03, 2009

Day 6 in the Rhine River valley

The incredible scenery along the Rhine River is idyllic to most people. The rolling hills. Hill-top castles overlooking the lush Rhine River Valley. But returning to Koblenz after 18 years memories long buried. Well, not really.

On my first trip abroad, those many years ago, Chris and I floated down this very section of the river. It started off fine, but after a few hours we were out of water and stuck on the roof of the boat under the hot sun. The only water being vended was carbonated, which is not satisfying to my taste.

If dehydration wasn't bad enough, we took the wrong train getting back to where we were staying in Heidelberg and by that point in the evening the trams to our friends' apartment was no longer in operation, so we walked five miles (at least) to get back. And when I got inside, I stuck my mouth under the tap and drank and drank and drank. The next day, my stomach was grumbling, and while I was on the tram to the train station, I lost it. Luckily I had an empty Bimbo bread bag to hurl into.

Good times.

Well, I'm happy to report I had a much better day on this go around. Sheila and I got an early start, dashing out of the hotel to catch the direct train to St. Goar, but after calling about the opening hours of some of the sites on our list of challenges, we spontaneously decided to jump off the train at Koblenz instead, which forced us to spend time researching alternatives at a hotel across from the train station.

Sheila and I decided to head south to Marksburg Castle for an in-depth look at the medieval way of life. The guide was somewhat helpful, but rushed us through each room making it hard to film our challenges, but we somehow got it all. For example, we learned the origin and modern meaning of the German phrase "give it one more tooth." The cauldrons in the kitchen were hung on saw-like bars that can raise and lower the pot toward the fire to help it cook faster. Germans use the phrase to tell people to hurry up.

We ran into several other teams at the castle and were a bit concerned about scoring because many of them are VERY creative, and we just weren't feeling it. Sheila had a sleepless night, and I certainly got less than usual. But I think we still did very well considering.

We headed back on the train to Koblenz with Team Swift (DeAnna and Kelly), who convinced us to do the go-carts with them. It didn't take much to change our minds from doing the Koblenz walking tour and soon we were speeding along the race course. The secret, as Kelly told me, was to keep your pedal to the metal and use the brake sparingly. By the first turn, I had become a "drifter," my wheels squealing at every turn. Unfortunately, the proof that I was a speed demon on the first try was not to be had. The printer broke and my lap times weren't recorded for the challenge. I had another turn on the track, but this time, two young children were on the course, too, causing back-ups and slow times.

We'll find out soon enough if I beat the rest of my challengers, but in the meantime, Sheila and I had to beat the clock -- or should I say the glockenspiel. We needed to catch the famous clock in the tower above 1411 Haus in action playing the French national anthem. We made good time and was able to spend 20 minutes in the museum, before filming the tune and the glockenspiel in action.

After the challenges were complete, we headed back to the room to do some uploading. Shortly after, we heard a "hello" coming from outside our window. When we looked up, there was a man in his window flashing us. We laughed at him and shut the blinds. It turned out to be Dan, go figure.

Good times, yet again.

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